Students’ Take: Year 1 during the pandemic

Chua Tze Hean - LKCMedicine studentBy Chua Tze Hean (Class of 2025)

The impact of this pandemic has been so widespread and lasting that personal memories of pre-COVID-19 days seem so oddly foreign. One and a half years in, I now only have faint and scanty memories of my travels and large meetups with my dear friends. The pandemic has disrupted so much of our social interactions and ways of life and joining medical school during this period has been nothing short of a unique experience.  

Because of COVID-19, many necessary safeguards were implemented to ensure our safety. Unfortunately, this also meant never-before disruptions to our student and campus life. For instance, our batch’s White Coat Ceremony (WCC) had to be held in multiple venues with limits on participant size. Our parents were thus not allowed to watch the ceremony in-person. It was a little disappointing as I really hoped that my family could join me on such a special and momentous occasion. Nevertheless, we were very thankful that WCC could still be held physically on a much smaller scale. Although WCC was held in a different format, the significance of the event was not compromised, and it marked a joyous and exciting start to our lifelong medical journey. 

2020 was also a year of “Zoom University”, with all Team-Based Learning sessions being held online since our batch’s matriculation. Anatomy and practical lessons were also separated into different groups and time slots in line with safe-distancing measures. Despite all these challenges, our professors continued to put their heart and soul into our lessons and practicals, transforming ordinary lessons into fascinating online learning journeys. Our house captains did not go into hiding! They organised many activities such as CoVideo Games Day that brought our houses closer through competitive gaming. 

What lessons have I learned from all of these? Living my life during a global pandemic has made me better appreciate our frontline workers, whose unseen work ensures the smooth sailing of our daily activities. From the cleaning ladies to the security guards at LKCMedicine campuses and everywhere else, they have contributed so much to our lives, yet we often take their work for granted. We have especially relied on them during this difficult time, and I am deeply thankful for their contributions. 

From the pandemic, I also saw first-hand the public’s utmost trust in the healthcare profession. I met seniors who had personal fears and reservations about the vaccines, but nevertheless took them as they trusted the advice of healthcare professionals. This experience serves as an important reminder for myself to always care for the public, and to never betray the public’s faith in Singapore’s healthcare system. 

Though COVID-19 may have disrupted our full experience of LKCMedicine’s pedagogy and facilities, there were many positives that I have benefitted from this pandemic. Starting medical school in this extraordinary setting has given me many role models to look up to. In particular, Singapore’s healthcare workers have given me much inspiration; despite the tireless hours, they remain committed to providing care to all patients. Their example motivates me to work hard in this long and sometimes difficult education path. 

Through the dedicated efforts of our professors, lecturers, facilitators and support staff, my learning experience in LKCMedicine has been amazingly fruitful and rewarding despite all the constraints brought about by the pandemic. I am extremely grateful to one and all at LKCMedicine and look forward to starting and enjoying my second year.